In an electrifying turn to the 2010 statewide political races, Steve Levy, the Suffolk County executive, will be switching from Democrat to Republican and announcing his run for governor on Friday, Rene Babich, a spokeswoman for his campaign, said last night.
Less than five hours earlier, at the Friendly Sons of of St. Patrick annual dinner in Manhattan, the two-term county incumbent said "I want to do it" but was still firming up sources of support and commitments that he deemed necessary to convince him the run would be "viable."
Rick Lazio, the former Suffolk Congressman, has been declared the presumptive nominee as of weeks ago, but drawn sporadic observations that his fundraising lagged and he wasn't catching fire early in the process.
He's due to announce in Albany Friday morning.
Lazio has termed Levy a liberal whom he accused of being disingenuous. Upon hearing of the reliably sourced report that Levy is planning to try to wrest the Republican nomination for governor, Lazio spokesman Barney Keller said, "Now we can add turncoat and opportunist to the words liberal and disingenuous" to describe Levy.
Keller cited Levy's 2003 vote as an Assemblyman for a record tax increase and termed Levy's claim to the conservative mantle "laughable." On Saturday, members of the Conservative Party's executive committee are due to meet in Brooklyn to back a candidate, and this announcement adds suspense to that event.
The Wall Street Journal quoted state GOP chairman Ed Cox as saying "County executive Steve Levy is a political phenomenon and a real fiscal conservative. The fact that he is coming over to the Republican Party is a huge coup to the Republican Party and is a sign that we're the future."